NFL@ Panthers vs Falcons : The Falcons return home to take on Carolina this week in desperate need of a win. The NFC South showdown will certainly be a tense affair.
Matt Ryan and company fell short at Philadelphia to open the 2018 season and they know an 0-2 start could doom their playoff hopes before they can get off the ground. Their game against the Panthers isn’t a must-win, but it’s awfully close.
Panthers vs Falcons Live
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Online streaming: Fubo TV
Panthers blog: Cat Crave
Falcons blog: Blogging Dirty
It may only be Week 2, but this game means an awful lot to both teams. The Falcons desperately want to avoid going 0-2. The Panthers know that banking road wins against NFC South foes should put them in great position to win playoff tie breakers late in the year. Expect both coaches to go all out to grab the victory.
The big question for Atlanta is which version of Matt Ryan they’re going to see. There’s no denying the fact that Ryan didn’t look right against the Eagles. He wasn’t able to drive the ball down the field with any authority. That was a big reason why the Falcons struggled to move the ball consistently.
The Panthers didn’t put on an offensive show in their 16-8 win at home against the Cowboys, but there were encouraging signs from Cam Newton and company. They’ll arrive in Atlanta hoping to put the Falcons in a serious hole in the NFC South standings. A road win for Carolina could put them in the early driver’s seat in their quest to win a division title.
Oddsmakers aren’t punishing the Panthers too much despite their litany of injuries, installing them as 5 ½-point underdogs in this NFC South showdown. They’re just 2-4 ATS in their past six games as road ‘dogs of between 4-7 points; prior to the slump, they had covered six straight in that scenario. Atlanta is on a five-game winning streak against divisional opponents and has successfully covered in four of those games, winning three of them by double digits.
From a totals perspective, these teams live for the under. They’ve gone 2-8 O/U in their previous 10 regular-season meetings, finishing with fewer than 40 combined points six times over that stretch. Atlanta has been a sensational under option on its own, going 3-13 in its previous 16 games and surpassing the total just once in its past 11 against teams with winning records. The Panthers have gone below the number in four of their past five September games.
Think the Panthers are having it rough already? They’ll also have to deal with the distraction of seeing their home state battered by Hurricane Florence, which is expected to do major damage to the Carolina coast over the weekend. On the field, their decimated offensive line will make things difficult for a Panthers run game that looked stout in its season-opening 16-8 win over Dallas, producing 147 yards and a touchdown on 32 rush attempts.
A healthy Falcons defence would give Cam Newton and the Panthers fits – but with Jones and Neal both lost for the season, Atlanta will have to get creative. There are concerns on offence, as well, with starting running back Devonta Freeman dealing with Week 1 soreness that held him out of practice earlier this week. The Falcons come into this one having won each of their previous three home games vs. Carolina, averaging a robust 30 points in those victories.